Each year, Prog Magazine gives out awards for the movers and music makers in the progressive rock world. A number of categories are open for fan voting, while others are determined by the writers and editors of the magazine. What follows is a discussion by the Proglodytes team on the awards and who should win them.
This award recognizes bright new stars in the progressive rock firmament.
The nominees are: Circuline, Good Tiger, Kylver, Lythium Dawn, Teramaze, The Aaron Clift Experiment, The Anchoress, Tiger Moth Tales, Tiny Giant and Tom Slatter
Thomas: I’ll admit, I haven’t had much time to process all of these bands. I have been trying to listen to the most popular songs from each bands while working, and have gotten a sense of each of these bands, but perhaps not at the level that is required to make a fully informed decision. However, Peter Jones’ Tiger Moth Tales have a rare kind of gentle power and beauty that draws me in completely.
Xerxes: I really enjoy checking out new bands and seeing what the future will have to offer. Of this group, two really stood out to me: The Aaron Clift Experiment, which has moved from a glorified solo project to an actual band with some really good results, and my choice for winner, Peter Jones’ Tiger Moth Tales, a charming and whimsical effort that really leaves the listener feeling like they’ve just listened to a musical fairy tale.
Iris: They selected some great bands/artists for this list, so it’s a tough choice for me. I had to choose between Circuline and Tiger Moth Tales, but I will choose for Tiger Moth Tales, aka Peter Jones. He’s an amazing multi-instrumentalist and a brilliant singer, so I hope he will win this Limelight award.
Best live concert/festival event of 2015
Big Big Train Live at King’s Place, David Gilmour- Royal Albert Hall, Dream Theater- The Astonishing Live, King Crimson- UK Tour, Night of the Prog 2015, Opeth- Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Ramblin’ Man Fair 2015, RosFest 2016, Rush- R40 Tour, Steven Wilson- Royal Albert Hall
Thomas: I know “there can be only one,” but for me, this is an impossible tie between Steven Wilson and Big Big Train. If I had to choose one, I’d go with Big Big Train, just based on the amount of times I’ve watched the videos of the concert. But Steven Wilson put on an absurdly impressive show as well. If Big Big Train is my winner, Steven Wilson follows just inches behind. Both were highly impressive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if either won (although I am going to guess that Steven Wilson will win this one, just based on what I’m sensing from the prog world).
Xerxes: Those are the two finalists for me as well. It’s not really a fair comparison in some ways. Wilson’s longer history and greater commercial success allows him to put on a show that a band like Big Big Train just can’t at what is essentially their first public gig. While I think that the Train was wonderful, Wilson’s polish and sense for the dramatic puts him at the top for me. That and the fact that Routine makes me weep, live or studio version. Adding that emotional wallop to a show is hard to top.
Iris: Of course, Steven Wilson did a great job at the Royal Albert Hall, RosFest 2016 had a pretty solid line-up, and Night Of The Prog is something you have to go to when you get the change… But I will choose Big Big Train. A superb live band!
For progressive artists on the verge of actually selling some records, or at least deserving of it.
Nominees: Bent Knee, Caligula’s Horse, Earthside, IO Earth, Knifeworld, Lazuli, Shearwater, The Fierce and the Dead, The Mute Gods, iamthemorning.
Thomas: This was a hard category for me. There are some really exciting new bands in the progressive arena. Of this crew, I’d probably go with either Bent Knee or Earthside. Not that the others aren’t exceptional. But Bent Knee is particularly mindblowing and unique, and Earthside’s debut really set an incredibly high bar for a band debut.
Xerxes: As a debut, Earthside’s album was a remarkable accomplishment, that sets the bar for their sophomore effort impossibly high. I love Lazuli, but I don’t actually seeing an entirely francophone band breaking into the (relative) big time. Caligula’s Horse is good, but I want to see more before I see them moving to the next level of success. My pick is iamthemorning which has moved in a relatively short time from a very obscure Russian duo to a band signing with a significant label in KScope and embarking on their first real tour with Gazpacho. They may be about to become something that becomes recognizable outside of just the prog world, and they deserve it.
Iris: Oof… So many good bands. I think they all deserve this award! But if I really had to choose it would be The Mute Gods. I wasn’t too impressed when I first heard the album, but it really grew on me over the months. I’m not sure if they will make more albums in the near future, but I really hope they will!
In short, the best song of the year.
Nominees: Andy Jackson, “Drownings”; Bruce Soord, “Field Day”; Headspace, “Kill You With Kindness”; Hexvessel, “Transparent Eyeball”; Knifeworld, “I Must Set Fire to Your Portrait”; Motorpsycho, “Big Black Dog”; Riverside, “Towards the Blue Horizon”; The Mute Gods, “Praying to a Mute God”; Theo Travis “Double Talk”, “Smokin’ at Klooks”; This Oceanic Feeling, “Put Down the Gun”.
Thomas: These awards are always subjective, but I feel like this category in particular is one that just boils down to preference or individual connection. This is a solid group of songs, but Bruce Soort- Field Day (Part 1 and 2) had a profound emotional impact on me. I feel like I understood what Bruce Soord was trying to say on a personal level with his album and with this song. The subtlety and pained but nostalgic vibe just touched me. And, while I think Motorpsycho has a really goofy band name, Big Black Dog is quite an impressive offering.
Xerxes: Always a tough call, as these are some really good songs, and of course my nominees for best song would actually be quite different based upon personal preference. However, at the end of the day, I don’t see that I would pick any winner in any circumstance other than Towards the Blue Horizon, a beautiful song when it was released that has become heartbreaking in the wake of guitarist Piotr Grudzinski’s passing.
Iris: Tough choice again! And my choice will probably be a weird one… But I will go for Theo Travis’ Double Talk! I adore the album Transgression, even though it isn’t ‘prog’. Theo and band deserve more recognition!
Album of the Year
The standout album of 2015.
Nominees: Anderson/Stolt, Invention of Knowledge; Between the Buried and Me, Coma Ecliptic; Big Big Train, Folklore; Dream Theater, The Astonishing; Haken, Affinity; Hawkwind, The Machine Stops; Messenger, Threnodies; Purson, Desire’s Magic Theater; TesseracT, Polaris; iamthemorning, Lighthouse.
Thomas: I know that, for many, The Mountain was Haken’s crowning achievement. However, I feel like Affinity is a much stronger musical statement overall in every way that matters. The hooks are infectious, the instrumental passages are insane, and the artistic statements are quite strong. Honorable mention: Big Big Train’s Folklore.
Xerxes: These are some very good albums. I eliminate a couple of them because while the albums are strong, I think their previous efforts were stronger (English Electric > Folklore and The Mountain > Affinity, IMO). Ultimately, I come down to choosing between The Astonishing, because the audacity of the thing is so quintessentially prog, and Lighthouse, because I just can’t get enough of it. Ultimately, my crush on Marjana Semkova wins out and I vote for iamthemorning’s effort.
Iris: Anderson/Stolt’s Invention of Knowledge nominated as album of the year? Really? Ok, it’s a good album, but not spectacular in my opinion! I will go for Big Big Train’s Folklore. I was already impressed by their Wassail EP, and this album will be definitely in my personal top 10 of 2016! A powerful album with beautiful eclectic moments. Too bad Frost’s Falling Satellites isn’t nominated, because that album deserves to be in that list!
Band/Artist of the Year
Self explanatory, really.
Between the Buried and Me, Big Big Train, Dream Theater, Frost, Haken, King Crimson, Messenger, Riverside, Steven Wilson, TesseracT
Thomas: Steven Wilson’s album Hand. Cannot. Erase for me pretty much solidified his decision to go solo. I know people still lament Porcupine Tree and long for that band. I had not been particularly inspired by Wilson’s other solo material, although there were some gems. But I feel like his latest output has shown that he is an incredibly potent musical force on his own, and will continue to be, without a doubt. I am not a betting man, but I’d place my bets on him winning this.
Xerxes: The fact of the matter is that Wilson is probably the most important figure in progressive rock this year, last year and each of the prior 10 years. This is illustrated by the rumblings one begins to hear about his being too ubiquitous. However, arguments can also be made for the reformation of King Crimson, TesseracT’s return to their original vocalist and simultaneous broadening of their sound beyond their djent origins, and Big Big Train’s first live gigs and very good new album that really brings the spirit of progressive music out into full view. It’s that combination of classic prog with the steps towards broadening of their appeal that leads me to vote for the Train.
Iris: Frost*! No explanation needed… Ok ok, I tell you guys why… Their latest album Falling Satellites is just amazing. After eight years of waiting this splendid band delivered some splendid work again! They are one of the best refreshing and entertaining prog bands out there! Move over, Steven Wilson!
The Storm Thorgerson Grand Design Award
Named after the prolific album artist (who designed some of the most well known album covers of all time, ranging from Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin to Peter Gabriel) this award recognizes design achievements in relation to album art/packaging.
Nominees: Anthony Phillips Reissue Series, Irmin Schmidt Electroviolet, King Crimson Thrak Box, Magma Konzert Zund, Opeth Deliverance and Damnation, Peter Gabriel Vinyl Reissues, Porcupine Tree The Delirium Years 1994-1997, Rick Wakeman Journey to the Centre of the Earth Box Set, Steve Hackett Premonitions – The Charisma Years, Tony Banks A Chord Too Far
Thomas: I’m a digital download kind-of-guy. *Runs away and hides behind a bush to avoid barrage of stones*
Xerxes: *Picks up a stick and starts beating bushes*. Thrak Box. While various compilations and re-releases of Crimson have threatened to create a certain weariness for consumers, the Thrak Box is just brilliantly put together and the very definition of exhaustive: 12 CDs, 2 DVD and 2 Blu-Ray disks covering every conceivable angle of Thrak. Yeah, 16 disks about a single album including remixes, re-released stuff, unreleased stuff, live concerts and brilliantly mastered sound.
Iris: Not a difficult choice. The Delerium Years are Porcupine Tree’s best years in my opinion, and the artwork done in that time is just amazing. In contrast to Thomas I prefer my music on the biggest medium to enjoy the artwork at the fullest: Vinyl… *Starts hunting down Thomas along with Xerxes*
What do you guys think about the nominated artists? Any that deserve special mention? Let us know in the comment section.